Reyes says Loria told him he would stay in Miami


Reyes says Loria told him he would stay in Miami

TORONTO (AP) Jose Reyes was in a hotel room in the Middle East when he received the surprising news: He had been traded from the downsizing Miami Marlins to the bulking-up Toronto Blue Jays.

``I went to Dubai on vacation with my wife,'' Reyes said Thursday in his first public comments about the Nov. 19 deal. ``One day I got up at 6 in the morning and I see all these text messages saying `You got traded.' That kind of surprised me a little bit.''

Reyes left the New York Mets as a free agent after the 2011 to sign a $106 million, six-year contracts with the Marlins, who boosted their payroll as they prepared to move into a new retractable-roof ballpark in downtown Miami. But after fading from contention en route to a last-place finish, the Marlins sold off their stars.

The move was surprising to Reyes, given a conversation he had just had with owner Jeffrey Loria.

``Five days before I got traded I was with the owner of the Miami Marlins and he said he was never going to trade me,'' Reyes recalled.

Like his Miami teammates, Reyes didn't have a no-trade provision. Telephone conversations with new teammates and fellow Dominicans Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion soothed any concerns.

``After that I said, `It's a better opportunity with the Blue Jays,''' Reyes said. ``It's all about winning and the team we're going to put on the field is going to be good.''

Reyes was dealt with pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and $8.5 million to Toronto for infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, right-handers Henderson Alvarez, and Anthony DeSclafani, left-hander Justin Nicolino and outfielder Jake Marisnick.

``He's the type of guy you want to come and see play, he's electric,'' Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. ``This is a rare guy to find. Leadoff, shortstop, energy, makeup, you can check off every single box. I don't know that there's another shortstop like him. I think any GM would love to have him.''

Anthopoulos called Reyes ``probably my favorite player in the league.''

``You can't help but admire what he brings and what he does,'' Anthopoulos said. ``From that standpoint, the opportunity to get him in trade, we jumped at it. We felt we were pretty deep at shortstop but we've never seen a guy like this.

``I don't know that we're going to see another shortstop like this in Toronto for a long time. This is one of the great players to play the game and the fact that he's got a chance to be in Toronto for the next five or six years is so exciting.''

Anthopoulos had made starting pitching his priority.

``We weren't going to go anywhere if we didn't improve the rotation,'' he said.

He addressed that concern in the trade with the Marlins and another that sent Buck as part of a package to the New York Mets for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

The NL batting champion in 2011 and a three-time NL stolen base champion, Reyes will be the first in a quartet of Dominican stars at the top of Toronto's order. Outfielder Melky Cabrera will likely bat second, followed by sluggers Bautista and Encarnacion.

That's made the Blue Jays as big a story in the Caribbean as they've been since the 1980s and the days of George Bell and Tony Fernandez.

``When I went to the Dominican and people saw me on the street, everybody talked about the Blue Jays,'' Reyes said. ``At least in my town, everybody is a fan of the Blue Jays now.''

Reyes is set to play for the Dominican Republic team at the World Baseball Classic, among seven Toronto players expected to take part in the tournament. Encarnacion, Cabrera and right-hander Esmil Rogers have been selected for the Dominican Republic's preliminary roster; Dickey and catcher J.P. Arencibia for the United States; and infielder Brett Lawrie for Canada.

Bautista is skipping the WBC following surgery in September to repair a left wrist injury that limited him to 92 games last season.

``The biggest thing with that is we need him ready for the season,'' Anthopoulos said.

Anthopoulos said Bautista, who feels good and has been swinging every day, hopes to play in Toronto's exhibition opener on Feb. 23 against Detroit.

That's a game Reyes is looking forward to, as well.

``I can't wait to get to spring training and start to work together,'' Reyes said. ``It's going to be a special season for the Blue Jays. The goal for us here is to go to the playoffs, go to the World Series and win. Less than that is not going to be acceptable with the kind of team that we have.''

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.